Dublin electronic production duo Mount Alaska have finally opened up their 2018 account with a remix of Headache Dreams by shoegaze-electronica artist Feather Beds, and it’s their most hypnotic and transcendent release to date.
Dublin scene veterans and former Halfset members Stephen Shannon and Cillian McDonnell have been drip-feeding tracks every few months since November 2016, and their four releases so far on Language Recordings are beautifully-rendered heady synth pieces, with an organic glitchiness that gently rustles rather than scrapes.
If you were lucky enough to catch Kiasmos at Vicar Street last November, you might’ve heard the real debut of their Headache Dreams remix. Mount Alaska were on support duties, and there was a definite tingly pivot moment when they started to thread in its delicate, woozy vocal samples, the slowly-unfolding synth arpeggios and eventual 4/4 release. Warm-up duties were duly nailed, with an influx of nodding heads from the bar, and the duo weaving between their gear, egged on by the crowd.
“We definitely felt the crowd lift at that point and it was pretty exciting for us, too,” says Shannon. “We haven’t played many live shows as Mount Alaska so we’re still experimenting with certain dynamics. Quite a few people have commented on the dancing… but in our defence we’re concentrating on counting beats and looking for cues so we’re probably just grooving to the music in a weird kind of way.”
Cillian adds: “Hopefully it comes across as more Van Morrison than Friendly Fires!”
The original Headache Dreams is taken from the 2017 album Blooming by Feather Beds, aka Dublin producer Michael Orange. Recorded in Montreal over two years and mixed by Mount Alaska’s Shannon, the seven-track LP is a triumph of dreamy psychedelia, abstract ambience, drones and left-field folk, with nods to Four Tet, Caribou and closer to home, Solar Bears.
Orange says: “It was really interesting to hear where Mount Alaska took the remix. I love the idea of working with raw files, completely reshaping something and totally transforming it. They certainly did this with the remix and seeing them play it at a packed Vicar Street last year opening for Kiasmos was a surreal moment.”
As well as the track itself, Mount Alaska also ‘remixed’ Feather Beds’ Blooming artwork for their the release. If you’ve been following their previous releases, you’ll know they have a thing for triangles – obvious enough from their first release Sine, Cosine, Tangent. So they ‘triangulated’ the original sleeve for a full-on Mount Alaska reboot.
“In a way, the triangles are an extension or representation of the band name, the song titles and the general feeling of the songs,” says McDonnell. “And because we create the artwork ourselves it gives us full control over the consistency of our identity – creating a strong, consistent visual identity was extremely important to us – we continue to put a lot of time and thought into our artwork.”
Shannon and McDonnell agree that after 20-odd years as friends, collaborators and industry heads, the biggest thrill of Mount Alaska is “achieving consensus”. Shannon adds: “We spent almost five years creating this sound and discarding ideas, songs and experiments. The music we are making at the moment feels like a very natural, honest distillation of years of experience and friendship.”
Have the first listen to the Headache Dreams remix below, and catch up with Mount Alaska’s other triangular sonic creations at soundcloud.com/mount-alaska. Find the original Headache Dreams on Bandcamp and usual streaming services.